Contact details 

Dr Saraswathi Murthy (head of department)
Consultant microbiologist (Harefield Hospital)
Tel: 01895 828 728
Fax: 01895 828 949

Dr Nehal Draz 
Consultant microbiologist (Royal Brompton Hospital)
Tel 020 7351 8440
Fax: 020 7351 8443  

Newara Ramadan
Microbiology service managers (Royal Brompton Hospital)
Tel: 020 7351 8446
Fax: 020 7351 8447

Opening times and out of hours service

Regular working hours are Monday to Friday, 8 am to 8 pm. On a Saturday, Sunday and bank holidays the department offers a reduced service from 9am until 2pm for the processing of both routine and urgent work and from 2pm an emergency on-call service is provided. For virology respiratory PCR a weekend testing service on a Saturday is provided between October and April.

If urgent investigations are required outside these times, there is an emergency on-call service available from 8pm to 9am on a weekday and from 1pm on a Saturday until 9am on a Monday morning. The Biomedical Scientist on-call can be contacted via the switchboard (please ask to be put through to the Microbiology on-call Biomedical Scientist).

Clinical advice

Clinical advice is available by contacting Dr Nehal Draz at Royal Brompton Hospital and Dr Saraswathi Murthy at Harefield Hospital, from Monday to Friday 9am-5pm. After 5pm on a weekday and at weekends/bank holidays please contact switchboard who can connect you to the on-call consultant microbiologist.

Microbiology service

The service offers a wide range of specialist bacteriology, virology and fungal diagnostics including cystic fibrosis and transplant bacteriology, mycobacteriology identification and susceptibility testing, molecular PCR assays and serology assays.

The clinical and microbiological infection interests of the department cover intensive care, cystic fibrosis, bronchiectasis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), aspergillosis, non-tuberculosis mycobacteria (NTM) disease, Tuberculosis, transplant and immune deficiency. 

Areas of expertise include: 

  • Quantitative sputum bacteriology for CF patients 
  • AFB culture and sensitivity testing 
  • Molecular and phenotypic identification of all mycobacteria isolated 
  • Sensitivity testing for tuberculous and non-tuberculous mycobacteria (NTM) 
  • Rapid molecular techniques for identification and drug resistance of MTB 
  • Multiplex Respiratory PCR assay including a PCR assay for SARS-CoV-2 and Pneumocystis jiroveci 
  • Investigations for patients on extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) 
  • Investigation of infective endocarditis and other endovascular infections 
  • Transplantation donor and recipient work up 
  • Support for specialty departments such as the Heart Valve Bank and Intensive Care 
  • Patients with ARDS and undiagnosed respiratory conditions which may be infective in origin.

The department has full UKAS ISO15189 accreditation since 2016. It is also approved by the HCPC/IBMS for training of biomedical scientists.

All the laboratory services use the CliniSys laboratory information management system, which has direct links with the ICNET Infection Control database system.

Current laboratory equipment includes a MALDI-tof analyser for bacteria and fungi identification, Bactec FX for blood cultures, Bactec MGIT for Mycobacteria cultures, Biomerieux EasyMag PCR extraction platform, Applied Biosystems 7500 Fast Real-time PCR amplification analysers, NeuMoDx, and InGenious a Biomerieux VIDAS serology analyser and the Bio-Rad Evolis serology analyser.

Research, development and training

The microbiology department participates with clinicians in clinical research projects within the Trust, the National Heart and Lung Institute and other organisations. We also initiate our own clinical and scientific research within the department as well as collaborating with pharmaceutical companies in clinical trials. 

There is current collaboration with the microbiology department at Great Ormond Street with use of their 16S and 18S PCR assays.

The department also isolates a significant number of fungi from the CF, bronchiectasis and transplant patients and is currently evaluating assays for Aspergillus PCR. 

Infection prevention and control

The medical, nursing and biomedical scientific staff comprising the infection control team monitor a number of micro-organisms that may be identified from patients and (if required) the environment. These findings are reported to the Infection Control and the Clinical Governance Committees, ensuring that there is an awareness of the type of micro-organisms and their antibiograms present within the hospitals.

We have a team of highly experienced and qualified infection control nurses, who provide advice on prevention and control of healthcare-associated infections (HAI). They provide comprehensive multidisciplinary education and training across the Trust in all matters pertaining to infection control.

As part of the infection control nursing team, we also have nurses undertaking surveillance and audit of environmental and clinical practices.

Alert organisms are continuously electronically monitored using ICNET.

Read more about infection prevention and control